The death of cronyism? Not exactly

The president stuffs his Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board with fundraisers and friends.

Published November 3, 2005 8:26PM (EST)

When the president named a distinguished economics professor to chair the Federal Reserve Board and an experienced appellate judge to serve on the Supreme Court, we thought that the days of Bush administration cronyism had finally come to a close.

Not so.

The same president who made Michael Brown his FEMA director and tried to make Harriet Miers a Supreme Court justice had the opportunity last week to appoint 16 new members to the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a panel that is supposed to provide "objective, expert advice" on the country's collection and processing of foreign intelligence. According to a Newsweek report, Bush named 12 new members to the board -- and nine of them are individuals who contributed to his campaign.

Among the men the president appointed was William DeWitt, an Ohio businessman who shared ownership of the Texas Rangers with Bush and then raised more than $300,000 for his two presidential campaigns. Also included were former Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Texas oilman Ray Hunt, each of whom, Newsweek says, raised more than $100,000 for Bush's campaigns. Other contributor-appointees included Netscape founder Jim Barksdale; former Reagan advisor Arthur Culvahouse; retired admiral David Jeremiah; and Stephen Friedman, who served as an economic advisor to Bush during his first term.

Friedman will serve as the board's new chairman, replacing Washington lobbyist and Bush Pioneer Jim Langdon. Langdon was the replacement for Brent Scowcroft, who, it's safe to say, isn't getting any presidential appointments in the near future.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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